THURSDAY, October 14
ZOMBIE DRAMA: One genre that’s rarely explored in theater, and one that I’ve always felt should be, is horror. The confined space, the precise acoustics, the wall-to-wall lighting—all lend themselves to it, something film executives had no trouble discovering in the early days of multiplexes. Is it because thespians are too sophisticated for it? Is it because so much of what makes a film scary is camera trickery? I don’t think so. I think that if carried out the right way, a play has considerable potential to provide consistent thrills without the abrasiveness to which the typical horror film often subscribes. And what better time than this month for Theatre Downtown to roll out Night of the Living Dead? It is unquestionably one of, if not the, most influential zombie films of all time; it has been remade twice, and has spawned five sequels to date, including one released this year. Admittedly, it wouldn’t be my first choice for a theatrical production—though don’t let that discourage you—I’ve never been the biggest zombie guy. Plus, this is far from the first time it’s been adapted for the stage. The performances start this weekend and run every Thursday through Sunday until the end of the month. 8 p.m. Get your tickets in advanced and pay $15, $17 at the door, and seniors and students get in for $10. Opening night this Thursday is what they call “Hobo Night” where you pay what you can afford, with a $7 minimum. For more information, call (205) 306-1470 or visit www.theatredowntown.org.
FRIDAY, October 15
CLASSIC CREEPS: Last week we told you about Dee Wallace’s appearances at the Atrox Factory in Leeds. Every year the haunted attraction presents celebrity guests in the weekends leading up to Halloween. And while Wallace was your model scream queen, the Factory this week has gone in a decidedly different direction. So when you’re there, if you’re not venturing through the maze, or visiting one of the activity booths, stop by the autograph signing table. They’ve booked Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster in The Munsters, and Lisa Loring, Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, for two consecutive nights. And while the two sitcom stars don’t exactly exude the same frightening, gruesome appeal that Atrox does, I’m sure everyone will welcome them with the same enthusiasm. Besides, nothing couples with horror quite like a little humor. The Factory runs from 6:30 p.m. to midnight on weekends, and you can buy tickets at any point during those hours, unless the room reaches capacity. It’s $5 to get in, and $15 to do a factory tour. Atrox themselves will tell you to get there early, because there will be a long line, and, presumably, a long wait. For more information, visit www.atroxfactory.com.
SATURDAY, October 16
DIFF’RENT FOLKS FOR DIFF’RENT BLOKES: It’s been quite a few years since I went to Kentuck. And when I say Kentuck, I mean the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s probably because it takes place in Tuscaloosa—specifically, Northport, a surrounding town. But if you’re an art junkie, it’s worth the drive. You’re bound to see at least one thing you appreciate. I myself was sold on the festival when I was sifting through one artist’s bin, on a table in the corner of his exhibit. Amidst something like one hundred other tiny paintings of the same size and style, there was one specific image—an androgynous face with wild orange hair set against a yellow backdrop— the caption read: “Martha Stewart’s Penis.” And while that’s probably one of the most outthere things you’re going to find at the festival, it still gives you a sense of the diversity in the work. Most all of it is what critics would call “folk art”, but since all that term means is “not classically trained”, none of the participating artists are tied down to a single genre. A booth full of traditional still-lifes is likely to be right next to a booth of contemporary illustrations, or one with artistic jewelry and other accessories. Plus, the event is packed with everything folks come to expect from a festival: concession stands, activities for children and adults alike, and live music throughout both days, Saturday and Sunday. It all starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $10/ day, or you can order yourself an advanced pass for $15 prior to the weekend. Children ages 12 and under get in free. For more information, call (205) 758-1257 or visit www.kentuck.org.
SUNDAY, October 17
BIRMINGHAM’S BACKYARD: If you’re a regular reader of our calendars, you’re probably familiar with some of the Southeastern Outings events we’ve featured over the last few months. Southeastern Outings is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote interest in the outdoors, a sense of exploration, and an active lifestyle. Most every week they are likely to have two or three trips for you to choose from, whether you’re one for canoeing, hiking, swimming, bike-riding, or you just plain need a day outside. Unfortunately, a lot of people just won’t have time to take some of these trips. Many of them involve long commutes to surrounding regions, and some of them are overnight, so they also pose something of a commitment. This weekend, though, the organization has decided on a local area: Red Mountain Park, the 1100-acre property donated by U.S. Steel in 2007 to the Red Mountain Park and Recreational Area Commission. The Friends of Red Mountain Park have been providing a series of tours around the area since its early developmental stages, and with every new series they make sure to open up more trails, more routes and more destinations. This will be Southeastern Outings’ fourth trip to the park. It departs from the dead end of Frankfurt Drive just off Lakeshore Parkway at 2 p.m. Arrive 15 minutes early so you can sign the waiver forms and meet your guides. Bring water and a good pair of walking shoes. Children ages seven and up are welcome. No pets or smoking allowed. For more information, call (205) 631-4680 or visit www. friendsofredmountainpark.org. To learn more about the development of Red Mountain Park, visit www.redmountainpark.org.
MONDAY, October 18
METAL MOLDS: Every year, Sloss Furnaces puts on something called the Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program. In these season-long classes, students from high schools all over the region get together to learn from professional artists how to create iron and steel sculptures, using techniques like forging, casting and welding. The classes are a learning experience, but also a 30-hour/week job. No small commitment. Now they’re getting the chance to display all their hard work for everyone to see. Their pieces will be up starting this week at Vulcan Park & Museum and running all the way through February of 2011. Entrance included with admission to Vulcan Park & Museum. Adults $6 (plus tax); Seniors $5 (plus tax); Children 5 - 12 $4 (plus tax); under 4 free. For more information, visit www.slossfurnaces.com or www.visitvulcan.com.
TUESDAY, October 19
A GYPSY TALE: I first saw an author named William Cobb at a reading at Jeff State, maybe six years ago. I bought his book, A Spring of Souls, but for some reason or another, never made it past the first few chapters. That’s not because it wasn’t interesting—on the contrary, Cobb has quite a talent for writing darkly humorous Southern Gothic stories. That’s why I’m fairly certain his new book, The Last Queen of the Gypsies, looks to be another worthwhile read, though the subject matter is somewhat different. The story follows two different characters on similar trajectories. One is a fourteen-year-old boy abandoned by his mother, named Lester Ray, who starts the story having just escaped from his abusive father. The other is a woman, Minnie, who’s been living alone since leaving her Gypsy family of migrant fruit pickers at age eleven. While the two of them search for the families they never knew, the novel switches back and forth between the two characters and intertwines their stories. Cobb will be signing copies of the book at Alabama Booksmith on Tuesday at 4 p.m. For more information, call (205) 870- 4242 or visit www.alabamabooksmith.com.
WEDNESDAY, October 20
SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT: The last 10 years in the music industry has been outright choas. With the advent of digital music files and sharing software, a companies’innovations no longer have a physical presence, like a cassette tape or compact disc. Right now we’re watching everyone try to get as much of a piece as possible from something that only exists as an intangible network of information. Meanwhile, customers looking to expand their collections have run into something of a wall. Buying music online is cheaper, and gives you access to hundreds of thousands of options that you’re almost never going to see while shopping. But buying music from a store provides a higher quality experience and it also just feels better to have a physical copy of work you enjoy. You can’t pick up an .mp3 ten years later and reminisce about the day you made the download. A few years ago I made the executive decision to save my money for vinyl. My everyday collection is in digital format, and has more music than I could listen to in months, but my record collection is like a sampling of my taste—only my favorite artists, without the filler that comes from content overload. And when you look at the recent overall spike in vinyl sales, you can see a lot of others have come to this decision as well. Namely people like the ones who will be populating “Open Vinyl Night” at Crestwood Coffee Company this Wednesday. The event is a weekly routine with Crestwood, an invitation to collectors to bring some of their favorite records and hang out, mingle, drink beer or coffee and listen to each other’s music. If you’ve grown weary of the state of the music industry, let this be your antidote. It starts at 7 p.m., and goes to 10 p.m. For more information, call (205) 595-0300.
THURSDAY, October 21
BEERS FOR BIG WINS: Next Thursday, Triumph Services and Good People Brewing Company will be presenting their third annual fundraiser to benefit adults with developmental disabilities seeking independent living. The event is called “A Taste of Triumph”, and you can expect what you’ve come to expect from any well-done, well-meaning fundraiser. There’ll be beer, obviously, but also a large selection of hors d’oeuvres and some fine wines from International Wines. They’ll conduct a live and silent auction, and offer live music from Jimmy and Laine. If you don’t go for the cause at hand, go for Good People, a company of great brewers and activists alike. The event runs from 6-10 p.m. at Good People Brewing Company. Advanced tickets are $45; Advanced couples get in for $80; General admission is $50. For more information, call (205) 581- 1000 or visit www.triumphservices.org.